At its meeting Monday night, the Great Bend City Council considered a resolution to ask voters in the upcoming April election if they want to continue the one half-cent city sales tax. The tax first approved by constituents in 2000, will sunset as of April 1, 2015.
The purpose of the tax is three-fold – to provide property tax reduction, infrastructure improvements and economic development incentives.
The tax has generated between $1.4 million and $1.9 million each year. Despite the 2008 recession, it has continued to dump money into the general fund coffers.
Of the total, 35 percent goes to property tax reduction. Over the years, it has been the equivalent of between five to seven mills.
As for the balance, 45 percent goes to infrastructure improvements (mostly streets and Fire Department equipment) and 20 percent goes to economic development incentives.
The tax is only a piece of the city’s budget pie. It makes up about 10 percent of the city’s $23.7 million 2013-14 budget.
At a time when state and federal governments are more than willing to shift spending burdens on local units of government, this tax seems to make sense. A sales tax makes it so everyone who shops and spends money in our community picks up a share of the cost to run the city.
Even with less aid money flowing into the city, pot holes still have to be fixed and our front-line safety system has to be maintained.
The sales tax is also more fair than, say, a property tax that penalizes mostly home and business owners.
We all hate to pay more taxes, but we have to weigh this against what we stand to lose with out it.
If given the opportunity, let’s hope it meets a favorable reception from local residents come April.